A Dying Man Taught Me How to Live

Ivan Mesa | January 25, 2017


“The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.”

— Paul Kalanithi

We like to keep death at arm’s length, and probably farther away. We’re constantly in search of ways to forestall the inevitable. The Grim Reaper, from our first entry into this world, casts a cruel shadow over us. It stalks, hovers, and ultimately has the upper hand. However herculean our attempts, our bodies atrophy—they grow weaker until they are no more. Death might happen suddenly or through the course of many years, but happen it will; apart from Christ’s return, it’s not a matter of if but of when.

In our death-averse society, 2016 was a stark reminder of our mortality. With a string of celebrity deaths—something that’ll become increasingly common with an aging baby boomer generation, and further amplified by social media—we’re no longer shielded by the feats of modern medicine that have made death, for much of the last half-century, little more than an afterthought.

It’s not surprising, then, that one of last year’s bestselling books, When Breath Becomes Air, is about making sense of our mortality. Stanford neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi—who died in 2015 at age 37, after a 22-month…


To read the rest of this article, visit https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/book-review-when-breath-becomes-air.